2022 has presented one of the most competitive fights for a top 4 spot in years, and, refreshingly, Arsenal are right in it. Ask Sky Sports and the Gunners are even favourites; they recently slashed odds to 4/9, putting them considerably further ahead of Man Utd. With the FA Cup over for the season, and Liverpool winning at the Emirates on the way to the Carabao, there’s not a lot left to be enjoyed in the season but perhaps a lack of variety. This could be the pattern for a few years; Arsenal are arguably far from challenging from major honours. There are a few ways to flesh out the fan experience in the meanwhile.
Playing the fantasy
Fantasy football isn’t a lot of fun when your club is struggling. This is especially true for the bigger clubs like Arsenal, where it’s often not fun to be reminded of player struggles each week. This season has given Gunners a lot to get excited about in the world of fantasy football, however. As Premier League statistics show, a handful of Arsenal stars have overperformed. Saka is up there with the likes of Fernandes despite costing half as many points. Ramsdale has been a bargain, racking up the fourth most points despite only being the ninth most expensive keeper. When the players put in good performances, it makes FPL fun.
Following the academy
Arsenal’s academy has always been envied across the world, and it’s building on historic success this season. The Premier League 2, Division 1, is currently being led by Man City, but Arsenal’s under-23s are only 9 points behind in second place. The youth team have hit 50 goals so far this season, only 2 less than the leaders, and recently beat their counterparts from Tottenham 2-1 in a fiercely contested derby. The likes of James Olayinka and Marcelo Flores have excited so far this season, and could be prospects for the senior team.
Watching the tactics develop
The recent loss to Liverpool featured a flattering scoreline. It told of poor finishing on Arsenal’s part, but also didn’t show just how good the Gunners were for large parts of the match. Arteta is finally putting his stamp on the team, and it’s hard to see anything but success once a proper striker is picked up – Laca doesn’t have it in him anymore, arguably, and, as The Guardian asserts, Arsenal were the better side for 50 minutes without ever scoring the requisite goals. What is more easily seen is the tactical evolution the team is currently experiencing; pieces of the puzzle are slotting into place, from front to back, and it’s showing the level of play.
It’s been a tumultuous few years and that can push fans away from getting fully immersed in their football. Even if just the Premier League and the race to fourth isn’t enough to sate the footballing appetite of the average Arsenal fan, there’s a lot going on around the club to get interested in.